FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US’s Bloodiest Day in Iraq

by PATRICK COCKBURN And KEN SENGUPTA

Just four days before Iraq’s historic
elections, 36 US soldiers were killed yesterday in the deadliest
single day for American forces since they invaded Iraq almost
two years ago.

The heaviest loss was a transport
helicopter crash in the western desert that killed all 31 Marines
on board. The CH-53 Sea Stallion went down at 1.20am near Rutbah,
a desolate town 220 miles from Baghdad. Officials in Washington
said that bad weather was the most likely cause.

Four more US Marines were killed
in ground fighting in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and
Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and a soldier was killed by a rocket-propelled
grenade north of the capital. The losses bring the number of
US soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the war to more
than 1,400, with more than 11,000 wounded.

At a press conference in Washington,
President George Bush acknowledged that the news would be “very
discouraging” to the American people. “We value life,”
he said, “and we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their
life”. But he ignored growing calls in Congress for the
administration to at least set a timetable for withdrawal of
most US troops, insisting American forces would remain in sufficient
numbers to ensure “the job is done”, and the Iraqis
were able to defend themselves.

Despite the bloody cost of
the war, the President stressed “the long-term objective,
and that is to spread freedom”. Sunday’s elections, he predicted,
would be “a grand day in the history of Iraq”, though
he declined to specify what would be a satisfactory turnout.
An hour later, the Senate confirmed Condoleezza Rice as Secretary
of State by a margin of 85 to 13, overriding fierce criticism
from some Democrats that she had misled the country over the
reasons for going to war.

Ms Rice did draw more opposition
than any secretary of state in recent history, more than the
seven votes cast against Henry Kissinger in 1973, and the six
objecting to Alexander Haig in 1981. Her predecessor Colin Powell
was confirmed unanimously.

The latest surge in casualties
may divert public attention in the US from the election. The
US has lost 33 helicopters in Iraq, of which 20 were shot down.
In the worst incident before yesterday, two helicopters carrying
soldiers collided over Mosul in northern Iraq in November 2003,
while trying to avoid ground fire. Seventeen men were killed
and five wounded. A Chinook helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-launched
heat-seeking missile fired from a date grove near Fallujah the
same month, killing 16 soldiers.

Helicopters now fly low and
fast to give insurgents firing at them less time to aim. The
roar as they fly just above roof-top level in Baghdad often sets
off a cacophony of car alarms. Though flying low may make them
less vulnerable, it also makes reconnaissance and surveillance
by helicopter more difficult.

Yesterday, two suicide car-bombs
were detonated on the airport road, the most lethal highway in
Iraq, which is heavily patrolled by US armoured vehicles. Seven
soldiers were wounded. Last November the British embassy told
its staff not to use this road.

Although the interim Iraqi
government claims 14 out of 18 provinces are safe, Iraqi truck
drivers say the only safe provinces are the three Kurdish ones
in the north. The guerrillas appear to have an inexhaustible
supply of young men willing to be suicide bombers.

In the Sunni Arab town of Riyadh
south-west of the oil city of Kirkuk, three suicide cars filled
with explosives blew up close to an Iraqi army post and a police
station yesterday. Four Iraqi policemen, two Iraqi soldiers and
three civilians were killed, and 12 wounded. An approaching US
combat team came under fire and two soldiers were wounded.

The insurgents, many different
and loosely co-ordinated groups but all opposed to the election,
reject the vote as illegitimate because it is in effect being
held under the auspices of the US as the occupying power.

In the latest attempt to disrupt
polling, a suicide bomber detonated a fuel tanker at an office
of a major Kurdish political party yesterday, in Sinjar, a town
a few miles south-west of Mosul, killing 15 people and injuring
30, officials of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said. The insurgent
group led by al-Qa’ida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
claimed responsibility for the attack.

The KDP is one of the two largest
Kurdish political organisations in Iraq, and part of a coalition
of 11 Kurdish groups for the elections. A video is circulating
of a hooded fighter with a pistol who says: “We are mujahedin
in the province of Nineveh [Mosul]. What they call elections
have no basis in the Islamic religion and that’s why we will
hit all the election centres.”

The US military keeps reporting
they are fighting a group called AIF, for Anti-Iraqi Forces.
US intelligence says 95 per cent of the insurgents are Iraqis.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Sam Husseini
Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
Dmitry Kovalevich
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus as Fear and Loathing Grip Europe
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail